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tv   This Is America With Dennis Wholey  PBS  September 23, 2012 10:00am-10:30am EDT

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>> we recently traveled to new york city to observe the international summit on the teaching profession. countries from all over the world with successful school systems come together to share ideas with each other. at the summit, i had a chance to sit down and talk with some of the brightest minds in education today. you are one of the sponsors, the national education association, of this incredible summit meeting. tell the folks watching now a
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little better about the who, what, when, where, why. >> we started an idea in a meeting with secretary duncan, what if we brought together the leaders, the ministers from the country's redoing an international assessment, and we did not dream it would come about to the extent it has. last year was such a positive experience from everyone. as i talked to fellow union presidents from around the world, their reaction was so positive. they went out to dinner together, had informal conversations, in addition to -- they said, "i spent more time with the minister of education than i did in three months, six months." the level of conversation really did what we know happens when you want collaboration. you have got to sit down and build those relationships. the big winners are students in education.
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>> so getting people to sit and talk with each other? >> yes, it is really important. if the minister of education and union president have such a poor relationship and they do not want to sit together, they are not invited. we believe collectively that if you really want to sustain change, change what is happening in education, you must have collaboration. if you cannot sit down and talk, it will not happen. >> folks are listening to us talk now, and our relationship has always been very friendly, but they say those unions and leaders of education are so adversarial. they love hearing this. >> are around the world is different than people's perceptions here. in all of these countries that are doing so well on the international assessment, they have very high union membership, usually over 90%, and they are always working together. >> at the end of the summit, you were to present a three-point plan to move this respect for
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the teaching profession forward. what do you have in mind? >> as a group, but the american federation of teachers, school officers, department of education and national education association, our commitment to the future -- we said we are going to work together and be ready for our labor management conference that we sponsor together in day to do that. we are doing more than we have ever done before, and the three- point plan, one, we have to focus on the people coming into the profession. we lose 47% of our teachers in the first five years. some of the critics say it is too hard to fire the ones who are left. the system of training and hiring is broken. no company, large or small, can survive with a turnover of 47% in the first five years. we need to make sure that every
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person before they ever enter a classroom is fully trained, licensed, and certified. the second part is that we have to own the professional practice. the art of being a professional. it means starting from day one, now that you are licensed, from day one there must be an effective evaluation system that gives good feedback, that is tied to professional development, so that you grow in your entire career. the third point is the unions have to lead in this. we have to not just fight against bad solutions but fight for good solutions, things we believe will make a difference for students. >> when you put all this together, i hear in some of the conversations i have had today, a shift that the united states has really picked up on this idea of recruitment, training, support, and then that results in retention, i am sure.
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>> absolutely. i have learned so much from singapore, finland. ontario, canada. our leaders to the north. when you look at how they look at this whole system -- for example, singapore, a year ago, making the point, we tend to look at cumber say -- at compensation as paying individual people. they see it as an undergirding of a system. if you want people to want to be in teaching, you have to have a compensation system that supports that. you cannot have a system that pays one fourth of similar careers that require the same kind of training. >> as folks watch us wind up this conversation, what one thing should they keep a lookout for, that you want them to know? >> i heard the answer to this today. people talk that often, individuals are looking for the silver bullet. someone said the several bullet
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-- someone said the silver bullet is education. it is not one activity or action, it is understanding the system of education ensures our country's future. in this global society that we now have and global competition, the only way we will all succeed as a nation is to invest in that education. the best return on any dollar spent. that is the one thing we have to do, is ensure that our success for the future is done by investing in education today. >> the silver bullet. >>he silbu is education. >> the silver bullet is education. thank you, dennis. >> thank you, dennis. >> and"this is america" is made possible by -- the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children
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and public education. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. the ctc foundation, afo communications, and the rotondaro family trust. new zealand has one of the top education systems in the world. to learn about the how and why of its success, i talked with the minister of education. i read these big reports, and they say that new zealand always is ranking in the top-10 of all school systems all over the world. what is the secret of success? >> there is no one secret of success. in order to get a system that is made up of many parts, one of them is that we have a highly inspirational culture as a
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society where a small country, -- we are a small country, the last stop before antarctica. we know that we have to trade to survive. to do that, we have designed -- to design products and services that the world wants. that means that our biggest resource is located between the two years of our citizens. that means we have to constantly ensure that how we contribute, we manage the resource, through our education system. we deliver those opportunities so that we have a very strong culture attitude of success and expectation. and the national curriculum that delivers the schools we're talking about. we have to have outstanding professional leaders, our principles and head teachers. we have to have teachers themselves, and all the research
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tells us that quality is the direction that dries up education. we have to have parents who expect the -- that drives up education. we have to have parents who expect the best. we have to have a risk-taking kind of culture, high- performance. you have to have risk-taking and adventure. all of those are part of the national attitude. however, we have major challenges as well. we need to be overcoming some of the poverty gap. we need to be bilingual. we have a native indian population of which i am one. -- we have a native indigent population of which i am one. on top of that, that we provide our students with an interest
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and an aptitude with more than one language. that is a required part of our curriculum as well. >> do you believe that quality education requires quality teachers? >> absolutely. we know that the biggest difference that can be made to a lerner's achievement pathway is the quality of the chair in -- of teacher that they have in the learning space. we absolutely have to prioritize how we prepare our teachers, how we support them in educational development and learning. >> is that an ongoing process. >> it is, and it not only involves time out of school to give subjects specific knowledge, but we also have within the education system, partnering, collaboration, ogling mentoring. we believe it in continuous
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improvement, -- and ongoing mentoring. we believe in continuous improvement. we do it annual or triannual, or a 5-year review of how things are going. >> when a youngster is 16 years old, what do you expect of them, for them, at the end of that period of time? >> the law in new zealand provides that students must be in school until 16, but typically our students will stay until they're 17 or 18. we expect they have schools that have -- and equip them for the 21st century. relationship management, judgment, communication. we expect that they will have passed a national examination comprised of different achievement standards that get them on the pathway they have
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chosen. >> what percentage of youngsters that go through what we call 1 through 12 go on to further education? >> i cannot give you an exact number, but significant numbers. we distinguish between university education, technical education, and training for the workspace. but all of our students who graduate, from high school, it would be up in the high 80% to 90%. >> what are you going to take away from this summit meeting? >> one of the key things, and actually it is represented in the structural assessment, is collaboration. we have government, unions, and we have teacher practitioners. one of the very clear things is the importance of collaboration, particularly if a country is looking for change, all parts need to buy in and be part of that in order to make that
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change. another, i think, is actually it has emphasized that all the things we are doing in new zealand, we are on the right track. we need to be going further and faster because we have an achievement gap, and we want to be able to pick up all of our students so that they have the capability to realize their potential. the other take away is that everybody is learning from each other cherry picking, if you like. why do we need to reinvent the wheel? if singapore has identified a good process for teacher preparation, why not learn from what they are doing? similarly, finland has mastered how they might close the poverty gap. >> what can the united states learned from new zealand? >> the united states, indicative in its name, is really a collection of very, very big
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countries. i think that we do offer an excellent world-leading national curriculum. i also think we have a good assessment of schools throughout education. those are two things that i think are important. the third thing i think is that we recognize that language, identity, and culture are intrinsic fleet and extensively important to a student. >> thank you for coming, and a safe trip home. a wonderful conversation. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> the person foundation promotes literacy, learning to read the pearson foundation promotes literacy, learning, and great teaching. i spoke with their ceo. what brings you to the summit? >> teaching, educational systems
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around the world are what we focus on three to try to document the practices that successful countries, strong performers, to figure out why they are doing well, and sort of shared their stories with others. >> as you step back from the whole thing and survey all of these countries that have successful education systems, what are the common denominators? >> it is hard to identify one common denominator among all of them. there are a lot that have to do with this conference. they all seem to care about teachers and do a good job of recruiting them, training them. one of the biggest thing is that people talk about in the last few days is the degree to, once you get a teacher into the system, how do you provide the sort of training and support they need to be able to come into a class and succeed, and how do they grow over time so that they start as teachers,
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grow into leaders, and train others? >> i have been told that as a matter stir of education -- that as a minister of education that does not come without a union representative, they will not invite them? >> bet is great, isn't it? it sort of gives teachers, who may be feel too often that they do not have a voice, talking about what it means to be a teacher, what great teaching is, and how that work gets spread. >> 21st century, technology is huge. how does that fall into the whole education system paradigm of around the world? >> one of the biggest waste technology is having an impact, it is allowing us to focus more on data. these countries are performing a lot of the work to identify the beginning clues of the behaviors
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of these countries that allow them to succeed. the next thing is how to be able to take that, which is science, and apply it to the art of teaching, and where the right balance is. the concern to often is where you divide metrics on the measurement site, the more teaching itself will be focused on metrics. i think really it comes down to figuring out what happens in that classroom, and that interaction between a teacher and a student. there are all sorts of technologies that improve that interaction. you want that teacher pay attention, and you want that teacher to be able to subscribe to a bigger community of teachers and practitioners. >> what is the priority for the pearson foundation? >> we are really interested in helping teachers and celebrating teachers. to the degree we can, working with other organizations, to get the word out about the practices, both in their
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classrooms and in their profession. >> some of the materials are available through you worldwide. >> pearson has a big investment in supporting teachers. we try to connect people, organizations like teachers unions, ministries of education, nonprofits, to see if we can get a greater consensus of what works. the more we know what works, the better chance we have for improvement. >> are you in the right place at the right time? >> it is a great gathering of people, and the best thing about it is there is this commitment not only that we meet when we talk, but people go back to where they came from and implement, do stuff. >> mark, thank you so much for coming by. >> thank you. >> to close the achievement gap at ground level, i talked with jerry weast, who has been a
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school superintendent in five states. thank you for sitting with us. >> good to be here. >> you have been the super in five different states? >> 35 years. >> what is the headline on the article, the biggest lesson you have learned? >> we can do it and we are doing it in pockets in the united states. >> give me an example. >> in different places -- i find places in california, the midwest, the east coast -- but in 13,000 systems, you have got to increase the volume. so the questions to ask ourselves, how we -- how do we go to scale with quality and get the volume we need to drive our country? we are only about 300 million people in a world of 6 billion or more. we only have 50 million in education. we cannot leave half of them off. >> now, there are the haves and
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the have-nots . >> the haves a doing very well. >> do we get it in the united states that the social and economic success of this country is predicated on the quality of education? >> we get it, but are we willing to invest in it -- not pay for it, but invest in a strategically, and build that new culture of a structure that works for more children. right now in america, economics is a great divider, especially with children right now -- with children. right now race seems to be a proxy for economics. you have to put those things on the table, because that's who is falling behind -- children of color and children who are poor.
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that is half of the children we have in school systems. >> so when you sat in montgomery county, maryland, and you grab a hold of this idea of an achievement gap, two different worlds, how did you attack it? >> truthfully, which was very hard. that is, put it on the table. we showed it in a map of the county. we created a map that had red and green on it, and really you had to face it. we took it out of all the floury statistics and put a face on it. when we put a face on it, we then had to call ourself to action. when we called ourselves to action, we stopped all the activities and said what are the activities of our most productive? >> who is on the map? >> everybody -- who saw the map? >> everybody in that county. we showed the house value, the
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quality of education, and if you put the same house in a different place, right across the street in some cases, the value went down $100,000. >> so we have a green and a red? >> yes, and what we wanted to do was green the red. like a front lawn. like a farm person that i am, if you had a field growing green, green grass, and some areas were not growing, what would you do differently? people would say we would fertilize it more, pay more attention to that area. that is what we have to do. we have to green the red zone. >> so it is a question of treating all the youngsters equally? >> no, it is quite the opposite. equal outcome -- you want the same outcome, to the college and career ready. you not only want them to get a diploma, you want it to translate into somebody -- into
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something that somebody wants to buy. you might have to do a differentiated way to go about doing that in your delivery system. we found that good teachers with the children who are most economically impacted, good teachers with the children that move around, and good teachers with the high expectations of what it was going to take and reasonable class size and good resources. >> i was reading an article last night about finland, and they were talking about finland, saying after the wars and such, that they predicated their economic recovery on an investment in education. >> so did we in montgomery county. we are more like ontario or alberta, finland. we did the differentiator resources. we got out of looking out the window and blaming people and we started looking in the mirror. when we looked in the mirror,
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what we saw was a set of structures that were causing all of our employees to be disengaged. even if you got the best plan, which in a place like montgomery county to get, the plan is executed by the people. if the people are not going to execute the plan, you have got a problem. >> that is why you showed them a map. >> and that is why we started doing things different. we embraced our employees, rather than push them away. we gave them the support, encouraged them to stop the train if it was not working. we started to listen to what the children needed and the future needed. when we did that, we became the number 1 graduation rate high schools in the country of all the large systems, highest a.p scores, and the highest
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baccalaureate degrees throughout the world. >> what is one thing you would have folks take away from our conversation? >> the very one thing that i could get across to anybody in this country, we can do it. others are doing it. we can do it, too. all we have got to do is the same spirit that we brought to this country in the first place. work together, and have high expectations for all of our children. >> thank you, and jerry. >> you bet. for online video of all "this is america" programs, visit our website, "this is america" is made possible by -- the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children
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and public education. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. the ctc foundation, afo communications, and the rotondaro family trust. whether at home or traveling abroad, our goal is to use our weekly "this is america" brighaprogram to learn about the social, cultural lives of people around the world. we call it "this is america and the world." in the desert of oman, downtown singapore, talking with guests in washington, we are learning about the entire world. you can see all of our programs at
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